How to get into film: student and teacher training linked with the curriculum

By Changeboard Team

Charity Into Film gives students experience of the film industry and provides teachers with training that links closely with the curriculum, writes Ralph Jones.

In an age of technology, where robots are coming for our jobs, a handful of key skills remain particularly precious because they are innately human and — so far — impossible for machines to emulate. Empathy is one. There is also critical thinking. But another is creativity.

Teaching students to think creatively is important no matter which subjects they are studying. A creative mind, able to come up with new solutions to problems, is valuable across the curriculum from the arts and humanities to STEM. It also helps students to master a range of other skills.

Creative projects encourage discourse, collaboration and the communication of ideas through a creative medium. A student struggling to communicate with the same fluency as his or her classmates might be better able to express their feelings through the prism of a creative endeavour. The arts also provide an outlet for feelings, supporting wellbeing and emotional development. They give young people a chance to express themselves and have their voices heard.

When it comes to careers, jobs that define themselves as ‘creative’ are growing at a faster rate than those that are not, plus creativity is now recognised as a core employability skill, required across all sectors — not least science and engineering.

Developing creativity has a positive impact on young people’s resilience, problem solving and emotional intelligence

“Employers around the world are consistently asserting the need for a more creative workforce,” writes Roisin Ellison on Barclays’ LifeSkills blog. “For this reason we must help schools to do more to harness the creativity of their young people.”

The value of creativity for students

Creativity can:

  • Aid problem solving and help people deal with uncertainty
  • Fuel innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Boost social and emotional skills
  • Celebrate uniqueness and diversity

Film-based skills training programmes

One organisation devoted to fostering young people’s creativity is Into Film, a charity launched in 2013, providing a films-based programme for students aged 5-19.

“Developing creativity has a positive impact on young people’s resilience, enjoyment of problem solving, emotional intelligence, and ability to develop and test new ideas,” says Jane Fletcher, Into Film’s director of learning. “In the workplace, this is invaluable.”

Into Film offers training to educators helping them to use film as a tool for curricular attainment. It also facilitates film clubs at which students can not only watch, but make, films; showcases young filmmaking talent through its Into Film Awards, and holds a festival every November, running workshops and sharing learning resources, plus free tickets to film screenings (see box, page 30).

“We remove barriers to accessing the powerful impact and medium of film,” sums up Fletcher.

For young people, it is an invaluable opportunity to get a taste of a field often considered elitist, and to understand the breadth of jobs available within the industry.

Professional development for teachers is a core part of the mix. To equip themselves to run Into Film programmes, teachers can choose from almost 50 face-to-face sessions across the year covering animation, filmmaking in the classroom and increasing literacy through film. Courses and other resources are also increasingly available online.

Training is produced with the curriculum firmly in mind “so that the teacher is not doing something ‘gimmicky’ or ‘additional’ but rather teaching their existing curriculum in a new and even more engaging and creative manner”, Fletcher makes clear.

Boosting student literacy through teaching with film

Into Film is keen to demonstrate the practical benefits of teaching with film.

“Film has sometimes been seen as the ‘poor relation’ in comparison to other art forms, or as a purely ‘fun’ activity,” says Fletcher. “We are changing hearts and minds rapidly as we train teachers and they understand the benefits of teaching with film and how to do it.”

Educators have reported improved literacy among students who have participated in film projects, strong engagement and enthusiasm for learning. Backing this, research by The Leeds Partnership Project: Improving Literacy Through Film found that pupils who regularly engaged in making and watching films showed a 96% improvement in average points’ progress in reading, a 60% improvement in average points’ progress in writing and a 75% improvement in their attitude to learning.

Film’s ability to fuel personal development is a key advantage, Fletcher believes: “We see first-hand the positive effect on young people’s confidence, self-esteem and ability to express themselves,” says Fletcher.

“Creating stories is innate to human beings and developing this through film, we believe, is equipping our young people for their futures.”

Case study: Film at Coleg Sir Gâr Further Education (FE) College

Coleg Sir Gâr FE College is based in Carmarthenshire, Wales, teaching A levels and vocational programmes as well as apprenticeships, part-time programmes of study and short courses. Richard Lewis, film club leader and creative media production lecturer, explains how he uses film to inspire young people and enhance their literacy and skills.

Our Into Film Club has been running for three years and has more than 50 members of wide-ranging abilities. Members take responsibility for the programming themselves through a committee.

Films are chosen based upon their relevance to student work and projects. Challenging titles such as Ida, I, Daniel Blake and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night have been screened to encourage debate and analysis. This has impacted positively on literacy development, increasing learners’ confidence in oral and written communication.

Students with learning-support needs through to those who have well-developed literacy skills regularly review films using group-based activities and blended-learning techniques. Filmmaking is a popular activity, with students producing fictional, factual and animation-based projects.

Members were successful in winning UK Film of the Month

Many are sufficiently confident to share their practical skills in a more formal setting and have delivered film-making and animation workshops for pupils at local schools as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate Community Challenge.

Other students are responsible for the termly digital members’ magazine containing film reviews, club news and links to trailers for forthcoming films. We are planning a group which creates social media content, sharing information about our club, Into Film and other filmmaking opportunities for young people in our area.

Our members regularly enter competitions and were successful in winning UK Film of the Month; their short film subsequently earned them a gold medal in the Welsh government’s Inspiring Skill Excellence in Wales project . Through our film club, we have engaged with various events including a BAFTA masterclass with Amma Asante and a hugely inspiring talk with actor Rhys Ifans.

The combination of screenings, industry-related visits and practical skills development has made a significant impact on a number of club members, adding value to their learning and raising aspirations to a point where it has influenced their progression pathways into higher education and the world of work.

Teacher resources

Read about Preston Lodge High School’s experience of the benefits of filmmaking:

Find Into Film’s full range of resources at:


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